Battling Internalized Ableism as Someone With Chronic Illness

By Paige Andrews: For Complete Post, click here…

My journey to identifying as someone with a disabling chronic illness was fraught with internalized ableism. When my symptoms first became too bad to ignore, I beat myself up for not being able to live a “normal” life. Don’t get me wrong, I still do this sometimes, especially when it comes to the amount of hours I am able to work. I also feel shame when others witness how my health affects me or during a flare-up when I have to let down my students.


This internalized ableism has only been compounded by the reactions, comments, and microaggressions proffered by those around me throughout the last decade. Despite scientific evidence to the contrary, some people seem to perceive illness and disability as being the result of some kind of moral failing. Some of the most impactful comments were:

  • “I wish I could work only 20 hours a week.” — a friend’s husband
  • “Good morning.” — sarcastically stated in the early afternoon by a family member
  • “It’s mind over matter… Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” — my grandmother

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